Further Improvements Are Needed in Amtrak's Passenger Service Contracts, But They Won't Come Easily

CED-81-35: Published: Jan 7, 1981. Publicly Released: Jan 7, 1981.

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Pursuant to Federal law, the annual performance audit of the National Rairoad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak) was conducted. Amtrak's policies for developing contracts with other railroads for services which Amtrak needs to operate passenger trains were examined.

Amtrak has now taken over direct operation of many of its functions, but it still must obtain many services from other railroads. The railroads provide train and engine crews for all Amtrak trains, provide and maintain tracks, do routine inspection and servicing of equipment, and provide other services and facilities. Amtrak has not been able to obtain railroad consent on revisions of existing agreements in order to better encourage on-time performance, including arrivals at intermediate points. Many railroads believe that they are held accountable for delays that are beyond their control, and do not want to accept additional risks unless they are well compensated. In addition to its contract revision efforts, Amtrak has sought relief in a few instances by going to court and to the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to settle disputes with the railroads.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The President of Amtrak should, if actions to obtain improvements in passenger service contracts fail after reasonable time and effort, seek guidance from Congress.

    Agency Affected: National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The President of Amtrak should attempt to improve passenger service contracts with other railroads by adopting a policy of including provisions in the contracts for changing flat rates during the contract period under specified conditions. Such conditions would include situations where the rates were initially set too high and other situations where substantial differences between incremental costs and flat rates are caused by factors other than railroad mismanagement or cost-cutting efforts.

    Agency Affected: National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The President of Amtrak should try to obtain needed improvements in passenger service contracts with other railroads by taking additional cases to the Interstate Commerce Commission in which Amtrak is unable to obtain railroad agreement on incentives for meeting intermediate point schedules and penalties designed to encourage good performance and cost restraint.

    Agency Affected: National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)

 

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